This is part of an ongoing liturgics project that I’m working on to correct the Mozarabic notation for Eucharistic Prayer D that is found in our Episcopal Altar Book. What we have right now is the general shape of the Mozarabic tone forced into Plainchant. Mozarabic chant, also called Visigothic chant, is peculiar to the Iderian peninsula and it’s development spans over 600 years. It’s difficult to say what early Visigothic chant sounded like exactly, as we don’t have documentation from that time period. However, we do have some surviving manuscripts from the late Visigothic chant that goes into the 15th century. Further, this type of chant has been preserved in Toledo, Spain, and can still be heard today. What most people pick up on when they hear actual Mozarabic chant is a Muslim influence on the intonation and shape of the chant. In actuality, this more ornate vocalization goes back to ancient Christian Near Eastern chant. You can still hear example of this influence in Syrian Orthodox chant, Palestinian chant, and even some aspects of the Greek Orthodox chant. You won’t find nearly as much of a similarity with Russian Orthodox chant, as the Russian chant was heavily influenced by the West.
To begin the process of recovering what the Mozarabic Prayer D should actually sound like, I transcribed what is in the Altar Book into Byzantine notation that is truer to the Eastern Orthodox roots of the Mozarabic chant. Byzantine chant uses the older form of neumes for its notations, as opposed to staff notation that shows exact pitch. Neumes, instead, indicate the interval of pitches and the general shape of the chant. Truth be told, Byzantine notation is a lot more complicated for most Westerners to read, but allows for a far greater expression of vocalization and nuance. So, with the chant then transcribed into neumatics, I can then see where the turns and flutters should be, insert those, then transcribe back into Western notation. Most likely I’ll have to rely on grace notes as one would find in bagpipe music.
All that being said, when I first wrote out what we have in Byzantine notation, I thought it would look nice as a formal calligraphy piece, which evolved into a full illuminated manuscript. So, this is the Byzantine notation (minus key signature) for what we have in the Altar Book, plus the Byzantine notation for the Mozarabic Sanctus found in the 1982 Hymnal (S-123). Special thanks to my Liturgical Music teacher Brad Hughley for pointing me towards the Sanctus, Fr. Tripp Norris for singing this at Candler, and His Grace, Bishop Keith Whitmore for putting up with my geeky liturgics.